Miami Heat Roster 2012-13: Starting-5 Projections and Depth-Chart Breakdown
The 2011-12 season couldn't have ended better for the Miami Heat.
With their first, of what they hope will be many NBA championships in the rear-view mirror, it's time to focus on the 2012-13 season and what it has in store for the Heat.
While there will be questions early on regarding how their newest acquisitions, Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, will mesh with the team, it's clear that it's yet another "championship or bust" kind of season for the Heat.
First, let's take a look at how last season played out
Final Finish in Standings
First in Southeast Division
Second in Eastern Conference
Fourth in NBA
New Acquisitions over Summer
Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Jarvis Varnado, Garret Temple, Josh Harrellson, Rodney Carney and Robert Dozier
2012-13 Depth Chart and Head Coach
Point Guard: Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole
Shooting Guard: Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen, Mike Miller, Terrel Harris
Small Forward: Shane Battier, Rashard Lewis, James Jones, Garret Temple, Rodney Carney
Power Forward: LeBron James, Udonis Haslem Jarvis Varnado, Robert Dozier, Josh Harrellson
Center: Chris Bosh, Joel Anthony, Dexter Pittman, Mickel Gladness
Coach: Erik Spoelstra
Don't forget to check out Bleacher Report's own Joel Cordes and Ethan Norof breaking down the Heat's 2012-13 campaign on the Heat season preview podcast.
Player Profile: Starters
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Point Guard: Mario Chalmers, 6'2'', 190 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 9.8 points, 3.5 assists, 2.7 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 44.8 FG%, 12.98 PER
Even though the Heat could suffice with Wade or LeBron running the point, having Chalmers and his quickness and streaky jumper at the point is a nice option at times.
Chalmers needs to work on his aggressive approach to the game this season. Becoming a more intelligent and patient player is going to be key for Chalmers' development and the Heat's success this year.
The Heat need Chalmers to be opportunistic. They don't need him to force offense or create shots for himself. He needs to get the ball to their star players and let them do what they do best—dominate games.
Shooting Guard: Dwyane Wade, 6'4'', 220 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 22.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.7 steals, 1.3 blocks, 49.7 FG%, 26.37 PER
It's looking like Wade's health is hovering right around 100 percent, and that means he'll be ready to be the Heat's starting shooting guard when the 2012-13 season gets under way.
While Wade will be the starter at the shooting-guard position, he'll certainly get time at the point when Ray Allen is on the court.
Wade's minutes may be limited early on to ensure his health over the longevity of the 82-game season. With Allen behind him on the depth chart, playing less minutes won't hold the Heat back.
Small Forward: Shane Battier, 6'8'', 225 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 4.8 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists 1.0 steals, 33.8 3PFG%, 9.76 PER
With Chris Bosh moving to center and LeBron being forced to play power forward, the Heat need Battier to solidify the wing, and he'll do just that.
Their only other option is to insert Rashard Lewis into the starting lineup. While that may be an option later in the season, the safe bet is to go with Battier. He knows how to defend, and he's a very opportunistic offensive player.
Battier is one of the most cerebral players in the game. He knows how to mix his talents with the Heat's star players to maximize his team's potential. That's why he's starting for a championship team at 34 years old.
Power Forward: LeBron James, 6'8'', 250 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 1.9 steals, 53.1 FG%, 30.80 PER
Hopefully it didn't come as a shock to see LeBron at the starting power-forward position. He could realistically start at any position and dominate the game—especially now that he's working on his skyhook.
On paper LeBron is the power forward. On the court he's a jack of all trades. He'll control the point, run in transition, dominate in the paint and slash into the lane.
LeBron is the rare type of player who isn't defined by the position he plays, and that's why he's a three-time MVP and the most versatile and complete player in the NBA today.
Center: Chris Bosh, 6'11'', 235 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 18.0 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 48.7 FG%, 18.94 PER
No, Bosh isn't a true center. But he has no other option than to play that position this year for the Heat.
Playing Bosh at center worked for the Heat late in the 2012 playoffs, and it worked most importantly in the 2012 NBA Finals. The reason why it worked is because it created versatility and an ability to spread the court at every position on the court.
Bosh will get pushed around by bigger, stronger centers like Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard, but he'll counter that by taking his game to the perimeter. Spreading the floor will be Bosh's purpose this season, and he'll succeed extremely well at doing just that.
Player Profile: Sixth Man
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Sixth Man: Ray Allen, SG, 6'5'' and 205 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 14.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.1 steals, 45.3 3PFG%, 14.83 PER
Having Allen as the first option off the bench is a major upgrade for the Heat this season.
Not only is he the best three-point shooter in the NBA with 2,718 made in his 16-year NBA career, but he's also a very crafty veteran who happens to be an intelligent defender.
Allen might not be as athletic as he was a few years ago, but his understanding of the game makes up for that. On defense, Allen won't be a liability and on offense he'll help spread the floor by adding production from beyond the arc.
In addition to his on-court production, Allen will also bring veteran experience for younger players in practice and in the locker room. He will be a valuable asset for the Heat both on and off the court. His leadership ability will be extremely valuable to the Heat's success this year.
If Allen, for some reason, doesn't produce at the level he did last season or suffers an injury, the Heat's next best option on the bench is either Rashard Lewis or Mike Miller. Both of those players would be a decline in talent from Allen, and having either of them as the Heat's sixth man wouldn't exactly be ideal.
Player Profile: Key Reserve Who Isn't Sixth Man
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Key Reserve: Udonis Haslem, PF, 6'8'' and 235 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 6.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 42.3 FG%, 81.4 FT%, 10.89 PER
Udonis Haslem doesn't always get the credit he deserves for the Heat's success because of other players like LeBron and Wade stealing the spotlight.
That doesn't mean he's not important though. The effort, intensity and discipline that he brings to the court drives the Heat—specifically their second unit.
Take for example, his foul on Tyler Hansbrough in response to Hansbrough's foul on Wade in the 2012 NBA playoffs. Sure, that wasn't the cleanest play in NBA history, but it was a play that the Heat needed to make to set the tone, and Haslem is the kind of player who isn't afraid to do that.
Haslem is the heart and soul of the Heat, and his play off the bench is often a spark that the Heat need late in quarters or when an opposing player needs to be put on lockdown.
Haslem leads with the way he plays, and it inspires the players around him. That's something that is extremely valuable, and it's a major reason why the Heat are where they are.
Player Profile: The Rest of the Depth Chart
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Reserve PG: Norris Cole, PG, 6'2'' and 175 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 6.8 points, 2.0 assists, 1.4 rebounds, 39.3 FG%, 7.99 PER
Cole's minutes will decline this season from his average of 19.4 minutes per game last year because of Allen joining the team.
That's not a huge issue for the Heat, because Cole still has a long way to go until he's going to be ready to be a consistent member of their rotation. Instead of going with Cole, the Heat will move Wade to the point and bring Allen into the lineup.
Reserve SG: Mike Miller, G/F, 6'8'' and 210 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 6.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 43.5 FG%, 11.40 PER
Miller will also see his minutes decline this season from last year's average of 19.3 minutes per game. That's great news for him because he often struggles with a nagging lower-back injury that hinders his performance.
Getting less minutes will mean that Miller will be healthier for longer, and he'll be more productive during the time when he's on the court. The Heat will utilize Miller's long-range abilities coming off the bench, but with Allen ahead of him they won't need to ask as much out of Miller as they have in the past.
Reserve SF: Rashard Lewis, SF, 6'10'' and 230 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 7.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 38.5 FG%, 9.37 PER
Lewis' career has been on the decline over the past few seasons. Coming to the Heat, though, is just what he needs to give his career the spark it needs.
While his minutes won't be near the 26.0 minutes-per-game level it was last year with Washington, he's going to get a chance to have a significant impact coming off the bench. The Heat will utilize him to give Battier rest and add long-range shooting from their second unit.
It's reassuring that Lewis' biggest issue so far is the fact that he has to get used to hitting "open shots" as reported by Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Lewis will certainly get plenty of those open shots over the span of this season. Let's just hope he can learn to knock them down.
Reserve C: Joel Anthony, C, 6'9'' and 245 pounds
2011-12 Per-Game Stats: 3.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, 55.9 FG%, 10.30 PER
With Bosh moving to the center position, Joel Anthony is being pushed to the bench. It's a move that makes sense because on offense, Anthony is a very ineffective player.
On defense, though, he brings a lot to the court, and that's why the Heat will keep him in their eight/nine-man rotation. Anthony will give Bosh rest, and he'll still bring a high level of defensive focus to the court. His minutes will be limited, but he'll be a productive bench player for the Heat.
Players Who Won't Get Much Playing Time
Dexter Pittman, C, 6'11'' and 285 pounds
Pittman won't get significant playing time this season because of the depth the Heat have ahead of him. Moving Bosh to the center position means Pittman will be used mainly in practice and in garbage time. Based on his play last season, that's exactly where PIttman should be.
James Jones, SF, 6'8'' and 215 pounds
Jones won't see many minutes this season and he doesn't need to for the Heat to win. Adding Allen this offseason signaled the end of significant minutes for Jones because he basically does what Allen does except he does it at a less productive and efficient level.
Breakdown of the Season
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The Miami Heat are going to be defined by one storyline this season—the chemistry between the Heat's Big Three and Ray Allen.
If the Heat struggle, the focus is going to be on the mistake the Heat made by bringing Allen into South Beach. But if they succeed, Allen will be a major part of why they are able to compete at such a high level.
The fact that Allen played for one of the Heat's biggest rivals, the Boston Celtics, for the past five seasons certainly complicates things too. It adds another level of intensity to the Heat versus Celtics rivalry, and it also adds to just how much every other team in the NBA despises them.
We saw how important team chemistry was in 2011 when the Heat failed to beat a Dallas Mavericks team in the NBA Finals that had been together for much longer than the recently formed Big Three. If chemistry isn't developed within the Heat's starting rotation and bench rotation, they will struggle and Allen's play will be a major focus of that.
The other 29 NBA teams are going to be trying to take down the Heat whenever they get the chance, and that's going to mean the Heat will have to find all of their support from within.
If Allen can add to that level of team chemistry and support, he will be one of the best offseason acquisitions, but if he adds any level of divisiveness to the locker room, fans will begin to question his role on the team.
With all that being said, the Heat are poised to be the team to beat during the 2012-13 season. They have all the talent, experience and leadership they need. Now it's time for them to put it all together on the court.
2012-13 Season Schedule
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Every game is obviously important to the Heat. But there are a few that hold a bit more importance than the rest. If there are a few Heat games you should check out, these are the ones to watch. If you're going to be watching every minute of all 82 games, then here's the complete 2012-13 regular season schedule—provided by ESPN.
So I took the easy way out here by including three games under the umbrella of the first important game of the season. The reason why is because this is the Heat's opening three-game stretch, and it's going to show us what kind of team the Heat are going to be this season.
Going up against the Celtics and Knicks in their first two games will give the Heat a good chance to see how they match up against top contenders in the East. It's also a great chance to dominate those teams and assert themselves as the top team in the NBA.
Playing the Nuggets will be a big test for the Heat because the Nuggets handed the Heat a 13-point defeat last season, and it exposed the Heat's difficulty with teams who thrived in transition. Now that the Nuggets have Andre Iguodala, this matchup takes a whole different level of importance.
Even though these games are early on in the season, it's going to be a good test for the Heat early on to see what they are made of.
Wednesday, Nov. 14 @ L.A. Clippers
Going up against the Clippers in the Staples Center will be a big test for the Heat. Not only is it a road game against a talented Western Conference team, but it comes at the back end of a six-game road trip.
Playing on the road was a weakness for the Heat last year, and this will be a chance for them to see if they are any better at playing on the road this year. Finding out how they match up with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and the Clippers will be exciting to watch, and it will certainly be full of electrifying, high-flying dunks.
Tuesday, Dec.25 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Anytime there's a game on Christmas day it's bound to be a special one. When it's between the two teams that played in the previous season's NBA Finals, it's going to be even more special.
This Christmas day matchup is the first meeting of last year's two best teams, and it's going to be an important game to say the least.
Seeing how the Heat with their new acquisitions match up with the Thunder is going to be fun to watch. While it won't make or break either team's season, it will be important for each team as they try to assert themselves as the best team in the NBA.
Thursday, Jan. 17 @ L.A. Lakers (Jan. 17)
Here it is. The first meeting of the year between Kobe and LeBron and their two superteams.
This matchup will be hyped up to an unreal level, and it will have a number of important storylines of it's own. Adding to the excitement of this game is the fact that it's on the road for the Heat.
If the Heat can come into the Staples Center and beat the Lakers—something they didn't do last season—they will be able to make quite a statement as to what kind of team they are going to be during the 2012-13 season.
Wednesday, Mar. 20 @ Cleveland Cavaliers
I shouldn't have to go into too much detail as to why this one is going to be an important game for the Heat.
Anytime LeBron returns to Cleveland, the stakes are going to be high and the excitement is going to be at an obscene level. In the overall scheme of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, this game doesn't mean that much, but it does mean a lot for the city of Cleveland and moving on past the LeBron era.
Who knows? This game could even be a preview of a potential Heat versus Cavaliers first-round playoff series.
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2012-13 Record Prediction
First in Southeast Division
First in Eastern Conference
First in NBA
The Miami Heat have enough talent on their roster to go after the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls historic 72-win season. The only problem is that there is just too much talent across the board in the NBA for the Heat to actually accomplish that incredible feat.
Losing 18 games is a realistic place for the Heat to be at the end of the season. The good news for the Heat is that they don't have many long road trips this year. Their longest road trip is a six-game span that includes games against the Grizzlies, Hawks, Clippers and Nuggets.
A majority of the Heat's big games early on in the season come at home, which is where the Heat are nearly impossible to beat—losing only five regular-season games last year.
Postseason Position: Top Seed in the Eastern Conference and Top Record in the NBA
While it's not integral that the Heat get home-court advantage throughout the 2012 NBA playoffs, it is something that will make their lives significantly easier.
Finishing with the top record in the East shouldn't be an issue. Without Derrick Rose, the Bulls won't be nearly as competitive as they were last season, and teams like the Knicks and Nets have too many questions surrounding their season to be considered a threat to the Heat's top spot.
The Heat's biggest competitor in the East will be the Boston Celtics, which will add a level of excitement and intensity to their matchups during the season. The Western Conference will beat up on each other enough to help the Heat have the best record in the NBA at the end of the 2012-13 season.
How Season Will End: Back-to-back NBA titles
The Miami Heat will win the 2013 NBA title. They just have too much talent, too much experience and too much star power to falter this season.
Adding Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis is going to make the Heat a much deeper and much more complete team. Sure, those players aren't the stars they used to be, but in the Heat's system they are going to thrive.
It will be an extremely exciting season, with the Heat having to fight for everything they achieve. A potential matchup with the Lakers in the 2013 NBA Finals would be an all-time great series, and it would add to the legacy of both LeBron and Kobe, adding a whole other level to the debate of which player is better.
I don't see an ending to the 2012-13 NBA season where the Heat aren't hoisting the Larry O'Brien championship trophy in June, and it's not because there aren't teams that can't stop them. It's because they understand how to win as a team, and they have a player in LeBron James who can do absolutely anything on the court to help his team win.
Best & Worst Case Scenarios for Miami Heat
The Miami Heat have high expectations for the 2012-13 season, that much is clear.
With every other NBA team focused on dethroning the Heat this season though, it's not going to be a walk in the park for LeBron and company.
Can LeBron lead the Heat to the top of the Eastern Conference, or will their offseason acquisitions of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis lead to a decreased level of on-the-court chemistry.
Bleacher Report's Assistant NBA Editors, Ethan Norof and Joel Cordes, alongside NBA Lead Writer, Ethan Sherwood Strauss, discuss the best and worse case scenarios for the Heat's 2012-13 season.
Stat Leaders in Every Major Category
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1. LeBron James: 29.2 points per game
2. Dwyane Wade: 24.2 points per game
3. Chris Bosh: 18.6 points per game
1. Chris Bosh: 9.4 rebounds per game
2. LeBron James: 7.6 rebounds per game
3. Udonis Haslem: 6.6 rebounds per game
1. LeBron James: 7.1 assists per game
2. Dwyane Wade: 5.4 assists per game
3. Mario Chalmers: 4.9 assists per game